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Minutes for SB212 - Committee on Commerce

Short Title

Directing the secretary of labor to submit a plan and negotiate an agreement for state enforcement of OSHA standards.

Minutes Content for Wed, Mar 15, 2017

Chairperson Lynn opened the hearing on SB 212 and requested Revisor Chuck Reimer to provide an overview of the bill.  Mr. Reimer provided a copy of the federal law concerning the submission of a state plan by the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) to assume responsibility for development and enforcement of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) standards.  (Attachment 1)

Senator Faust-Goudeau asked if this legislation would allow a partnership with other states.  Mr. Reimer replied the Legislation provides for the Kansas Secretary of Labor to assume responsibility for the development and enforcement of OSHA standards.   There may be some collaboration with other states that have opted to assume the OSHA development and enforcement responsibilities.  

Chairperson Lynn recognized the following conferees:

Mike Gibson, Executive Vice President, Associated General Contractors of Kansas, Inc., provided testimony in support of the bill.  (Attachment 2)

Kurt Steinkuhler, Past Chairman, Kansas Roofing Association, provided testimony in support of the bill.  (Attachment 3)

Jason Watkins, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, provided testimony in support of the bill.  (Attachment 4)

Clark Jones, on behalf of Tom Dondlinger, Dondlinger Construction, provided testimony in support of the bill.  (Attachment 5)

Brian Wood, Kansas Organization of State Employees, provided testimony in support of the bill.  (Attachment 6)

Marvin Swayne, Corporate Safety Director, Key Construction, Inc. provided testimony in support of the bill. (Attachment 7)

Senator Bollier asked Mr. Gibson if, given the state's fiscal situation, he would be supportive of a state plan should it become necessary to cut the budget for the state OSHA plan.  Mr. Gibson responded the good thing about a state OSHA plan is the collaboration that can occur between the public and private sector.  He said he did not know of other states that have incurred cuts to their plans, because up to 75 percent of their funding is provided by the federal government.  In addition, the fines assessed by the KDOL would remain in the state.   He indicated most of the state plans find they pay for themselves.  In some cases, the surplus funds have been used for educational purposes. 

Senator Sykes said companies have commented it is difficult to keep up with OSHA regulations.  She asked how this would not make the situation more difficult, referring to the availability of both state and federal OSHA standards.  Mr. Gibson responded he believed collaboration between the KDOL and industries in Kansas would increase communication and broaden access to OSHA information.  It could position Kansas as one of the safest places to construct a project.   

Senator Sykes asked if the smaller companies would be included at the planning and collaboration table.   Mr. Gibson responded the group of stakeholders would be a well-rounded group. 

Senator Givens questioned the cost of developing and implementing the state plan.   Chairperson Lynn responded the KDOL would be providing this information in their testimony. 

Senator Holland asked for data the past two or three years concerning the number of OSHA violations incurred by contractors in Kansas.  Mr. Gibson replied he did not know the answer:  however, he understood from KDOL that the state has been averaging a little over $3 million in citations.   He did not have a breakdown by industry of the citations.  He indicated there has been a spike in OSHA inspections and citations over the past few years.   Senator Holland expressed concern about Mr. Gibson having no supporting data about past experiences with OSHA. 

Senator Holland noted the Trump Administration has been  clear concerning the intention to deregulate.   Given the current budget restrictions in Kansas, Senator Holland asked Mr. Gibson why he believed now would be a good time to pursue this initiative.  Mr. Gibson replied he had heard legislators and local policymakers refer to the importance of local control.  This plan would provide local control to the state. 

Written only testimony in support of the bill was provided by:

 - Jim Rinner, Bartlett and West  (Attachment 8)

 - Chad Buresh, Vice President, Simpson Construction Services, Inc.  (Attachment 9)

 - Tracy Green, President, B.A. Green Construction Co., Inc.  (Attachment 10)

 - David Snodgrass, President, Snodgrass and Sons Construction Co., Inc. (Attachment 11)

 - Scott Casebolt, Vice President, Key Construction, Inc. (Attachment 12)

 - Daniel Foltz, President, KBS Constructors, Inc. (Attachment 13)

 - Mike Kilian, President, Kilian Electrical Service (Attachment 14)

 - Tim Sinclair, Owner and President, Midwest Steel Fab, LLC, Sinclair Masonry, Inc.,  Pal's Glass Service, Inc. (Attachment 15)

 - Jeff Grier, President, UCI  (Attachment 16)

 - Beverly Sauerwein, Vice President, Sauerwein Construction, Co., Inc. (Attachment 17)

 - Michael Hafling, CAS Constructors, LLC  (Attachment 18)

 - Kurt Grier, Eby Construction Co., Inc.  (Attachment 19)

Bruce Tunnell, Executive Vice President, Kansas AFL-CIO, provided testimony in opposition to the bill.  (Attachment 20)

Ken Keller, Western Extralite Company, provided testimony in opposition to the bill.  (Attachment 21)

Doug Westervelt, Safety Director, Crossland Construction, provided testimony in opposition to the bill.  (Attachment 22) 

Written only testimony in opposition to the bill was provided by:

 - Bob Totten, Executive Vice President, Kansas Contractors Association  (Attachment 23)

 - Pam Scott, Executive Director, Kansas Funeral Directors Association  (Attachment 24)

 - Conor Eubanks, Working Kansas Alliance  (Attachment 25)

 - Tom Burgess, on behalf of American Subcontractors Association, Kansas City Chapter (Attachment 26)

Senator Suellentrop asked Mr. Westervelt if his company is currently working in any of the states which have a state OSHA plan.   Mr. Westervelt responded his company has worked in states with state OSHA plans in the past, but the company is not currently working in any of those states. 

Senator Holland asked Mr. Westervelt if Crossland Construction was a member of the Associated General Contractors of Kansas.   Mr. Westervelt responded affirmatively.  Senator Holland asked Mr. Westvelt on his thoughts as to why the Associated General Contractors of Kansas are a proponent of the bill.   Senator Holland also inquired whether Mr. Westervelt felt a smaller construction company versus a larger construction company would be more in favor of a state OSHA plan.  Mr. Westervelt responded Crossland Construction works in the four states of Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas.  These four states follow the federal OSHA plan and do not have a state plan.  Working under one plan is an advantage to Crossland Construction. 

Senator Faust-Goudeau asked Mr. Tunnell to elaborate on his thoughts as to why the state should not develop its own OSHA plan.  Mr. Tunnell responded he believed the federal OSHA plan has worked well.  He said a starting point for consideration might be for the state to develop a plan covering public sector employees, since public sector employees are not covered under the federal OSHA laws and regulations. 

Senator Suellentrop asked Mr. Tunnel if he thought state employees should be treated differently than private sector employees.  Mr. Tunnell responded state employees are being treated differently now, since they are not covered by the federal OSHA plan.   He said it would be good if a state OSHA plan for state employees could be developed to mirror the federal OSHA plan. 

Senator Suellentrop said today's hearing was about whether to make an application for a state plan and not the approval process for the plan.  Mr. Tunnell indicated the process appears to be more complicated than simply making an application.  He said he understood it can take three or more years to make the application, develop the plan, hire staff and receive approval for the plan from the federal government.  Federal funding is not received until the plan has been in place for three years.  Senator Suellentrop responded he thought the concept of a state OSHA plan needs to be considered for its long term benefits.  

Senator Bollier asked Mr. Gibson for his thoughts as to the benefits, other than the benefit of local control,  of having a state OSHA plan.  She inquired what would change relative to outcomes and safety for the state.  Mr. Gibson responded there has been improved collaboration, communication, safety educational opportunities, and safer workplace records in those states administering a state OSHA plan. 

Senator Bollier requested Legislative Research staff to provide any available data concerning safety outcomes in states with state OSHA plans.   Senator Lynn recognized Brad Burke, KDOL, who indicated he could provide this type of information.

Senator Holland requested Mr. Burke and the proponents to provide OSHA violation data for the state. 

Senator Holland said unions are concerned about safety for their workers.  He asked Mr. Gibson if any union locals in Kansas were supporting the organization's position on the development of a state OSHA plan.  Mr. Gibson responded the Associate General Contractors of Kansas organization has local union members on its Board of Directors.  The members voted in favor of the position to establish a state OSHA plan.  

Chairperson Lynn expressed her appreciation to the proponents and opponents for their testimony.  Due to time constraints, Chairperson Lynn continued the hearing on SB 212 until the next Committee meeting on March 16, 2017. 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:29 a.m.   The next meeting is scheduled for March 16, 2017.